Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Malvern Redevelopment Project — So close, and yet so far away (from Paoli)

Reading Aubrey Whelan’s article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, ‘Malvern apartment complex nears completion after 10 years in the works’ had me thinking about Paoli, and the long overdue intermodal transportation center. Malvern … so close, and yet so far away from Paoli.

The Eli Kahn development project in Malvern is transforming – with an estimated $45 million price tag there’s 25,000 square feet of new construction stretching 1,400 feet along King Street. The mixed-use buildings plan has retail shops and restaurants on the first floor with 190 luxury apartments above. Even a Kimberton Whole Foods is planned that may give Wegmans, down the road some competition.

We all understand that projects such as Malvern’s King Street development don’t come without their challenges … how to revitalize in the midst of quaint Victorian facades and street lights … how to move a town into the 21st century without losing the charm of its 18th century roots. Change is never easy and not everyone has shared the vision for Malvern’s future. Media, Phoenixville, Wayne, West Chester – I am sure that all these communities saw their share of resistance to change. But today these towns are testaments to those who had the vision to believe in ‘what could be’ and the passion to ‘make it happen’.

I know that Eli Kahn’s project in Malvern is not the same kind of development as the Paoli Transportation Center. However, Malvern’s mixed-use commercial and residential buildings in the King Street business district (within walking distance of their train station) creates a model for Paoli’s redevelopment plans, beyond just a new train station.

I checked the Paoli on the Move website, and there are no additional updates since the Paoli Transportation Visions Open House at the township building with SEPTA last October. Frustrated, I sent an email to Michelle Kichline, as chair of the Board of Supervisors, and to John DiBuonaventuro, as the western district supervisor, asking for an update on the project. I also sent an email to Lucille Songhaim, Septa’s Community Relations Coordinator asking the status on the Paoli Transportation Center.

I received a response from Michelle, thanking me for my inquiry and stating, We have been working on a joint update/ press release with SEPTA and Representative Kampf’s office. We expect SEPTA to release it soon. As soon as they do, I will have Bill Martin make sure you get a copy.” I asked for a project update at the BOS meeting on February 11, and I am pleased to report that township manager Bill Martin emailed that he will add the update to the meeting.

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  1. Thanks Pattye. It would be nice to get an update on the Paoli Transportation Center. And let’s hope that when the redevelopment is ready to move forward that our BOS does a more thorough impact/benefit analysis than the Malvern folks did with the Kahn project… they basically gave away the town… for a meager $60,000 net new revenue to the borough… unbelievable.

  2. Interesting that Malvern “gave away the store”… and maybe while moving at a snails pace it is good to take time, lots of it, to do due diligence on a multifaceted project such as Paoli?

  3. After more than fifteen (15) years of due diligence and multiple analyses, we are doing yet another traffic/parking study in Paoli while nearby, forward thinking municipalities are completing and enjoying exciting multi-use developments. Our neighbors are already enjoying enhanced lifestyle experiences, such as walkability, better access to transportation, renewed business activity, improved parking, and most important, towns with a strong sense of community. We have yet to turn the first shovelful of dirt. Tredyffrin residents have missed years of community enjoyment and economic benefit as a result of the failure Paoli Transportation/Town Center to move forward in any meaningful way. More studies, more committees, more working groups, more open houses and more talk will not get the job done.
    It’s time for vision and action. Let’s talk hard plans, timelines and dollars. The Board of Supervisors needs to step up its commitment to the Paoli development and seize the opportunity. The Board must keep all of the governmental and other participants focused on the goal of a renewed Paoli. It’s all a matter of political will. Does this Board really have the will? More than fifteen (15) years is unconscionable. The time for delays is over.

    1. Murph,

      A few things you said have me thinking about questions for you.

      You said:

      It’s time for vision and action


      It’s all a matter of political will

      You are right; it’s time for vision and action. More accurately, it’s past time for vision and action. The question is whether or not our problem is a lack of vision and action? Perhaps the real problem is something else? Perhaps the problem has to do more with transparency and motives. As citizens, there is a dearth of knowledge as to what is really going on with our government. Whether it’s police staffing, the budget, storm water, zoning, etc., we don’t have a real clue as to what is going on. The same is true with the Paoli TS. As of late, the Paoli TS has been a crown jewel in political campaigns.

      Most recently, Vice Chair Heaberg said in his campaign that he is fully supportive of the Paoli TS. This was in stark contrast to his earlier statements here as Mike from Berwyn. On one hand, the public supposedly wants something done but on the other hand, the public ousts the one state rep that actually was making progress. Your party, the TTDEMs of which you are vice chair did more to support Manan Trevedi than Paul Drucker. And yet here you are, calling for action. Let’s talk transparency.

      The only thing scarcer than transparency around here is elected Democrats. The only two Tredyffrin Democrats are Kevin Buraks and Karen Cruickshank, the current and former TESD Board President respectively. Recently, there was a big dust up over the appointment of former TTPD Superintendent Andy Chambers as district safety consultant. We know all too well the lack of transparency with that decision, and yet no word from the TTDEMs on that matter. Here you are talking about the need for action and political will as to the Paoli TS and your own house is not in order. You can’t have it both ways Murph. If you are really going to be an agent of change, then you have to be somebody of action and political will as to that change. That means you may have to criticize one of your own. If you can do that, then you will demonstrate to me the “Political Will” that you are calling out the BoS for not having. That will be a tangible call to action.

      It’s really not about “Political Will.” It’s about “Political Want.” Does one want to take a certain course of action? If the answer is yes, then and only then do you get to the question of political will. It remains to be seen whether the BoS really wants to see change with the Paoli TS. It’s been well over 20 years since the Paoli Task Force was first convened. The only politician that actually got results was sacked. It remains to be seen just how important the Paoli TS is to people around here. About all that it appears to be good for is a bullet point on a campaign’s list of promises. And as it stands now Murph, you at the very least, don’t appear to be any different. In other words, if you are not willing to speak out against what happened with the school board in your role as TTDEM’s Vice Chairman, why should I or anybody else believe what you have to say here? Before you start running at the mouth with what will be empty promises, get YOUR house in order first. Then, if you want to start talking about calls to action, fine. Your actions will demonstrate to us that you have the political will that you claim others don’t have.

    2. Mr. Murph,

      As vice chair of the TTDEMS, I would like to hear what your views are on the latest action by the TESB to approve raises and bonuses for administrators slipped and hidden in a consent agenda without benefit of public view or discussion. I would also appreciate comment on the formation by the board of a committee to look into the outsourcing of secretary, custodian and cafeteria jobs a mere week after approving these wage increases. As a leader of the Democrat Party, do you agree with these decisions?

      Also, Kevin Grewell stated that when 2 or 3 Republicans came to his home to talk about running for the school board. they told him to not raise taxes and to finance the $5,000 cost to run for the board himself. Did you do the same for Kevin Buraks and Karen Crunkshank? Will you support Kevin Buraks in his upcoming bid for re election.


  4. The neighbors for the most part have a single constituency.Paolimis just one segment of Tredyffrin…some would suggest that Chesterbrook should be a higher priority, or Gateway, or Devon with the empty Waterloo property.

    So political will may be at the heart of it, and I don’t believe Paoli has the only project worthy of pursuing.

  5. I live in Valley Hills. Increased development of Paoli will absolutely destroy my neighborhood if traffic improvements aren’t adequately addressed. As I understand, there is no funding (because it isn’t financially feasible) for the widening under the 252 bridge, so increased traffic will just continue to spill onto East Central Avenue from 252. Most nights traffic already backs up from the N Valley Road intersection to the apartment complex. Ramming through high density development in an already traffic plagued town center without adequate planning and care isn’t what I would call progress.

    1. You would be correct if there wasn’t an associated increase in intrastructure capacity. From a regional planning perspective, Paoli is about as ineffecient as it gets as to land use. As to the station itself, it isn’t ADA compliant. How’s that possible? There’s a lot more to the story than just the station.

      As you can see from want to be supervisors like Murph Wysocki, they, like the elected officials, trivialize the Paoli TS issue and simply don’t get the bigger issues. Makes for good election fodder. But if you are looking for real results, don’t look to either side, you are not going to get anything.

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